Are you looking for a used car around five years old?
Here are some suggestions from four manufacturers for the model year 2014.
This model shows that Ford can do more than build hotrods and pickup trucks. With plenty of European input, the Fiesta was arguably the only North American subcompact on equal footing with its Japanese and Korean rivals. It’s good on gas, stoutly built and fun to drive.
Ford Mustang Boss 302
Ever since its re-invigoration in 2005, the new Mustang has not disappointed. Ford has managed to build a retro-styled classic that is thoroughly up-to-date and contemporary in every way. Even the base V6 models are decent performers, and the Boss 302 is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.
With a formidable 444-horsepower engine and a six-speed manual transmission, this is old-school fun and state-of-the-art engineering in one exciting package.
Yes, the Shelby GT500 has more power, but for everyday use and dependable thrills, the Boss 302 is the more practical choice.
One neat little feature: you can change the exhaust note from loud to really loud and make your racer dreams come alive. It’s the best thing Ford has done in years.
Fiat Cabrio 500
This is easily the most attractive subcompact out there. Masterfully styled and available in a wide range of models, the 500 has turned out to be one of the more affordable small used cars on the market. It has way more presence and charm than any of its rivals – with the exception of the Mini – while delivering top fuel economy.
And, with the turbo model, it goes like a tiny bat out of Hades.
There’s also a convertible version and a four-door model. Not to mention the Abarth special edition, which, if you’re a fan of European brio and engineering, is manna from heaven.
I like the fact that the 500 is as useable as it is intriguing and makes the most out of its proportions.
Dodge Grand Caravan
It’s not the most exciting vehicle out there, I agree, but think about this: it’s the bestselling minivan in Canada for almost 30 years and one of the bestselling cars on the market, period.
It’s very reasonably priced and now just as driveable as any of its peers. Find one with low mileage.
Definitely more than a pretty face, the XFR has 510 horsepower to play with, thanks to its supercharged V8. There’s also an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a barrage of high-tech engineering and convenience features.
It may look like a boulevard cruiser but this one goes like the clappers. Best of all, that Jaguar panache and sense of luxury is very much intact.
The rotary shift dial that replaces the conventional lever takes some getting used to, but the ergonomics and switchgear are relatively easy to get along with. Despite a lingering reputation for unreliability, Jags still offer pretty decent value.
And the base XF non-supercharged model was used by law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom.
This car is a classic top-down cruiser – and a stunner to look at.
It goes pretty well, too, with the base V6 version zipping from zero to 100 km/h in just over five seconds, and the supercharged S doing the same thing a full second faster. It’s elegant, quick and distinctive.
Although it could probably use more power, the Crosstrek is a pleasure to drive and features Subaru’s more-than-capable all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment.
You can also choose from a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or five-speed manual and all models come with a handy “hill-holder” feature.
Buyers tend to overlook Subaru’s off-road prowess, but these cars will go just about anywhere and that includes the Crosstrek. So while it may not burn up the asphalt, it’ll definitely handle the rough stuff, can carry a fair amount of cargo, and delivers good fuel economy, especially on the highway.
I also love the distinctive “tangerine orange” paint.
Bottom line: the Crosstrek is a lot of car for the money.
Subaru Legacy Touring
I like this one for the same reasons I like the Crosstrek: a tough all-wheel-drive system, well-behaved ‘flat-four’ engine and a reasonable price tag.
The Legacy doesn’t get the same kind of attention as the Camry or Accord but it’s their equal in every way – maybe even better.
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).